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Pritchett’s Pole Roll Continues

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 4 2017

Top Fueler Leah Pritchett is P1 yet again. (Photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

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Leah Pritchett of Don Schumacher Racing secured her third Top Fuel pole of the season Saturday evening as qualifying concluded for the fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, N.H.  

Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) also notched No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at New England Dragway at the ninth of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.  

Pritchett earned the fourth pole of her career with a 1,000-foot track record elapsed time of 3.673-seconds at 328.86 mph in her Dodge Demon/Pennzoil dragster during the third of four sessions.

“I am above and beyond grateful and blessed to be in this car, and I want to keep going No. 1 for everybody who has gotten me here,” said Pritchett, who will have a first-round bye into the quarterfinals. “This whole weekend has been about teamwork and we hope to have four more rounds of that (Sunday).”

Brittany Force of John Force Racing wound up second at 3.686-seconds and a track speed record 331.36 mph in her Monster Energy dragster, set during the second session on Friday. Force is set to race Steve Chrisman in the first round of eliminations Sunday.

Eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher qualified third with a 3.703-second pass at 327.03 mph in the U.S. Army dragster, and will face Smax Smith in Round 1. Three-time/reigning world champion Antron Brown, a teammate to Schumacher at DSR, qualified fourth in the Matco Tools dragster and will meet Shawn Reed in the first round.

In Funny Car, Hight raced to a 1,000-foot track elapsed time record of 3.822-seconds at 334.65 mph in his AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS to earn his landmark 50th career pole and first of the season. HIght, of JFR, also set the New England Dragway speed record at 336.74 mph during his first qualifying pass on Friday. The 2009 world champion, Hight will meet Mike Smith in the first round. 

“This is a great way to start off the Eastern Swing as a No. 1 qualifier, but we know with these conditions and this racing surface there could be some records broken,” Hight said. “(John Force Racing) has had a lot of success here but now I want to add my name to the winner’s circle.”

Courtney Force, winner of the New England Nats in 2013, qualified second with a 3.842-second pass at 331.53 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS after escaping injury when her car’s engine exploded at the end of her first qualifying pass Friday. Force, a daughter of 16-time world champion John Force and Hight’s teammate, will race Jim Campbell in Round 1.

Reigning Funny Car world champion and 2016 New England Nationals winner Ron Capps of DSR qualified his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T third with a pass of 3.863-seconds at 328.30 mph.

Pro Stock rookie Gray notched the first pole of his career after running the quarter-mile in 6.501-seconds at 212.09 mph in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro during the fourth session. Gray is chasing his third win of the season and second consecutive after emerging victorious at Heartland Park Topeka on May 21. He will match up against Val Smeland in Round 1.

“I’m really excited, but a No. 1 qualifier doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the (winner’s) Yellow Hat at the end of the weekend,” Gray said. “That (run) was probably the closest to perfect I’ve ever been, and you can’t really ask for much better.”

Two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders qualified second with a 6.513-second pass at 213.16 mph in her Elite Motorsports Camaro, and will face Shane Tucker Sunday. Point-leader Bo Butner finished third in qualifying after a 6.515-second pass at 212.03 mph in his Ken Black Racing Camaro.

Eliminations are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. (EDT) Sunday. FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will begin its telecast at 4:30 p.m., or after conclusion of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series telecast from Dover, Del. 

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Sunday’s first-round eliminations pairings for the fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway, the ninth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday: 

Top Fuel _ 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.673-seconds, 328.86 mph  vs. Bye; 2. Brittany Force, 3.686, 331.36 vs. 15. Steven Chrisman, 6.847, 104.55; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.703, 327.03  vs. 14. Smax Smith, 5.257, 148.80; 4. Antron Brown, 3.721, 328.70  vs. 13. Shawn Reed, 4.067, 237.46; 5. Terry McMillen, 3.723, 327.19  vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.822, 316.15; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.724, 327.98  vs. 11. Dom Lagana, 3.799, 321.19; 7. Clay Millican, 3.727, 324.83  vs. 10. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.775, 324.12; 8. Steve Torrence, 3.731, 327.66  vs. 9. Doug Kalitta, 3.732, 327.03.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.822, 336.74  vs. 16. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 6.237, 111.25; 2. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.842, 331.53  vs. 15. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 4.562, 194.58; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.863, 328.30  vs. 14. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.123, 281.66; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.874, 333.66  vs. 13. John Force, Camaro, 3.965, 323.43; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.878, 330.23  vs. 12. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.940, 329.50; 6. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.892, 323.43  vs. 11. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.923, 331.36; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.893, 324.59  vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.901, 328.46; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.900, 327.66  vs. 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.900, 325.77.

Pro Stock _ 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.501, 212.09  vs. 14. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.788, 192.74; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.513, 213.16  vs. 13. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.712, 202.52; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.515, 212.13  vs. 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.644, 207.59; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.517, 212.59  vs. 11. John Gaydosh Jr., Camaro, 6.624, 208.62; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.526, 212.03  vs. 10. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.594, 210.67; 6. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.530, 212.59  vs. 9. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.552, 211.73; 7. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.533, 212.09  vs. 8. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.551, 211.43.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 4 2017
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